Outside-In For A Different Perspective

Outside in is perhaps the best pair of words to express that you are looking at something from a different perspective.  It is a very short way of suggesting that the view is coming from a different direction.  The words are being used currently in a number of different and interesting ways.

Outside.In for example is a new way of looking at what is going on around you using what has been called a hyper local news aggregator.  It aims to tell you: What’s happening. Where you are. Right now.  It is a much more evocative name than its major competitor EveryBlock from MSNBC.   EveryBlock is one of scores of competing services including Nozzl, Outside.in, Fwix and more that serve up public records, social media content and local announcements on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood, or in this case block-by-block, basis.

There are even more mind-blowing examples of that Outside In duo.  There is even a movie, Outside In, made by IMAX, which will show on massive screens and concert-level surround systems with a synchronized light show to audiences in planetariums, museums, galleries and limited IMAX release.

outside in

Using hundreds of thousands of still images manipulated to create full motion, «Outside In» takes the audience from the big bang to our present day. With visual and audio mashups & photo-motion collages, the camera journeys into the zeitgeist of our age of mass media but music carries us to Saturn. There, we soar around, into and through the incredible photographs of Saturn taken by Cassini using an «2.75D» photographic fly-through technique created using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.


That stunning example of Outside In should not blind us to more interesting examples of these contrasting words.  The Outside In social service agency is dedicated to serving low-income adults and homeless youth. It began in 1968, and has continually revised services to meet changing client needs. Current programs include a community health clinic, a homeless youth program designed to help homeless youth obtain independent living, and risk education.  It has had outstanding success helping Portland, Oregon’s homeless youth transition off the streets and into stable lives.  80% of youth who go through their transitional housing program never return to the streets.

The final example of the Outside In contrast could well the one of the most powerful.  Many companies have bought into the notion that they should be more customer centric.  They interpret that as trying to focus on the customer and provide what customers need.  However this often results only in lip-service to the concept.  Indeed they often assume that they know best what customers should have and then strive hard to deliver that.

unhappy customer
Cartoon originally appeared on CustomersAreAlways


HBS professor Ranjay Gulati, suggests a better way is to adopt an Outside-In Approach to Customer Service.  This is an excellent way of describing what is involved in becoming a more customer-centric selling organization.  The alternative is to remain a product driven company that nevertheless tries to make sure it produces high quality products.

The term Outside In makes a clear distinction that we are talking about what the customers on the outside see in the products and services the company delivers. Professor Gulati, an expert on leadership, strategy, and organizational issues in firms, believes that companies must evolve through a series of major transitions on the way to becoming more customer-centric. He covers this in his book, Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. Key.  There are many examples of where this process has brought success such as Best Buy, Cisco, Target, Starbucks, and Jones Lang LaSalle.

In a way it all goes back to that quotation from Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, on customer service:

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

That customer is on the outside looking in.  It is important that she or he is enthused by what they see.

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2 thoughts on “Outside-In For A Different Perspective”

  1. The theory of outside-in is quite intriguing as it manages to expose the facts and logic behind those surprisingly correct decisions made by the people who successfully run world’s leading organizations. It can be complicated to understand how it actually works but if tried using Sam Walton’s idea, it may not be that complex after all.

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